Ramon and Maria Cardenas started in the restaurant business over forty years ago. Ramon was born in San Luis Potosi. Maria, born in Chihuahua, Mexico, passed away in 2002. Together, they shared a passion for Mexican cuisine, and created recipes and dishes proudly served as delicious expressions of their cultural background.The Red Iguana restaurant opened its doors in 1985 to resounding applause and numerous local and national awards. The Cardenas family has had the pleasure of serving its dedicated patrons in the Salt Lake Valley since 1965 with the Casa Grande and Red Iguana restaurants. Ramon and Maria created unique yet traditional Mexican recipes, now passed on to the Cardenas children who are proudly continuing the family tradition.Serving the Salt Lake Valley all these years has been an honor and we are very grateful to all our loyal patrons. 

Thank you, The Cardenas family



NEW! New York Times:

Would You Open a 2nd Restaurant Two Blocks From the First?


NEW YORK TIMES 08-24-2011: "A case study we've just published recounts the dilemma experienced by Red Iguana, a family-owned Mexican restaurant in Salt Lake City. A local favorite, the restaurant, which had been featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, had people lining up around the block for its food when the city announced a disruptive public works plan to build a light rail line down the middle of Red Iguana's street. Scheduled to start in 2010, the multiyear project had the potential to dissuade customers from visiting and, during its most intense periods, to close the restaurant — a huge potential loss for a one-location business that had been serving 700 people a day, 363 days a year." - READ PART I  AND PART II  IN THE NEW YORK TIMES


In 1985 Red Iguana opened on 300 West, between 1st & 2nd south.  The original restaurant sat only 18 diners but was an immediate success.  After a year of resounding applause & a line of customers down the sidewalk, a fire destroyed the building. It took some time for Ramon Sr. & Maria Cardenas, the founders of Red Iguana to resettle into its current location. The much-anticipated grand opening was televised on local news stations, featuring interviews with grateful, happy customers. 

Since then Red Iguana has continued to please it’s dedicated patrons. Ramon Sr. from San Luis Potosi & the late Maria from Chihuahua shared a passion for Mexican food. Their dream was to introduce Mexican cuisine they loved, savored, & appreciated to the Salt Lake Valley.

The Cardenas family has been serving Mexican food in the SL valley since 1965. They started with the Casa Grande, which operated for 20 years before the Red Iguana opened. Lucy & Ramon Jr, Ramon & Maria’s children, started at a very young age to wash glasses, greet & seat customers, cook and assist in what ever way they could. Ramon Jr. became the face and name of the Red Iguana until his death in 2004. His influence and memory live on.

Today Lucy Cardenas, her husband Bill Coker & their family of 150+ employees, continue offering the legendary Mexican Cuisine her parents & brother cooked with love & joy. The family recipes can be enjoyed at Red Iguana, Red Iguana 2, and on a smaller scale, Taste of Red Iguana.

Our customers often ask what region of Mexico our food comes from. Our menu is a collection of award winning Cardenas Family recipes that are gastronomically creative interpretations of classical dishes proudly prepared for generations in regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States.

For over 50 years, our recipes have withstood the test of time; we use chilies, cinnamon, garlic, cumin, onions, cilantro, epazoté, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh vegetables, just to name a few of the ingredients that go into our food. Please enjoy.

Serving the Salt Lake Valley all these years has been an honor & we are very grateful to our dedicated patrons.